I just realized that Pedro Cerrano from the hilarious 1989 cult-classic Major League is also the Allstate guy. Perhaps everyone else realized this long ago, but either way, I have to say that actor Dennis Haysbert has really moved up in the world. Whoever thought that the Cuban baseball player Pedro Cerrano, who sacrifices live chickens while speaking broken english throughout the Major League trilogy, would someday be slinging insurance on national television as the official spokesman for Allstate, one the United States’ largest insurance carriers? Not me.
For those that are not familiar with Mr. Haysbert’s thespian performance in Major League, his character Pedro Cerrano is a Cuban defector and voodoo practicing slugger who cannot hit baseball’s most famously elusive and unexpected pitch: the curve ball. In an effort to overcome his off-speed nemesis, Cerrano prays relentlessly to his voodoo god, Jobu. As Cerrano explains to his Cleveland Indian teammates why he keeps a shrine for Jobu in the clubhouse:
“Bats, they are sick. I cannot hit curve ball. Straight ball I hit it very much. Curve ball, bats are afraid. I ask Jobu to come, take fear from bats. I offer him cigar, rum. He will come.”
So who wouldn’t want to buy homeowner insurance from Pedro Cerrano? Perhaps not the most likely spokesman at first glance, but after doing a Wikipedia search on Mr. Haysbert’s acting career, it became more obvious to me why Allstate would select him as their official spokesman.
Mr. Haysbert got his big break in 2001 playing David Palmer, U.S. Senator on the suspense thriller TV series 24 alongside Kiefer Sutherland. By the second season of 24, Haysbert’s character David Palmer becomes the first black president of the United States. Mr. Haysbert, notably a tall handsome gentleman with a deep authoritative voice, has been reported as saying that his playing president David Palmer on 24 helped Barack Obama win the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination.
Well done Allstate. You basically figured out how to get President Obama to sell insurance for you without the political partisanship. Granted, when Mr. Haysbert preaches “That’s Allstate’s stand. Are you in good hands?” all I am hearing is Pedro Cerrano telling third basemen Roger Dorne, “hats for bats, keep bats warm,” while stealing the head cover off of Dorne’s three wood.
Plus, Pedro Cerrano’s relationship with Jobu is strangely similar to the relationship many policyholders seemingly have with Allstate. Just like Pedro Cerrano who fills Jobu’s coffers with rum and cigars all season and never receives any help from Jobu with the unexpected curve ball, policy holders pay premiums to Allstate year after year and are reportedly abandoned when disaster finally strikes. After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Department of Insurance received more complaints against Allstate – 1,200 – than any other insurance company. In 2007, Allstate made $4.6 billion in profits while holding another $156.4 billion in assets despite the fact that Allstate was labeled “The Worst Insurance Company in America” by the American Association for Justice.
Accordingly, policy holders should perhaps take note of Pedro Cerrano’s final prayers to Jobu during the last playoff game of the season versus the Yankees. After Cerrano swings and misses at two curve balls, he steps out of the batter’s box and whispers to Jobu:
“I’m pissed off now Jobu. Look, I go to you. I stick up for you. And you don’t help me now. I say fuck you Jobu. I do it myself.”
Pedro then picks up his bat and proceeds to hit the next curveball over the fence for a homerun.
Too often I speak to distressed policy holders on the phone that have suffered property damage to their homes through Hurricane Katrina, Gustav, and now Isaac, who say they have been waiting around for months for the insurance check, but just like Jobu, it never comes. While I can appreciate Mr. Haysbert’s assurances on his Allstate commercials, sometimes it’s better to follow Pedro Cerrano’s advice and pick up a bat, or lawyer, and say fuck you Allstate, I’ll get the job done myself.